Hyundai announces autonomous Ioniq concept
Los Angeles — Hyundai Motor Co. surprised members of the press at the Los Angeles Auto Show by hiding its debut in plain sight. The South Korean automaker announced an autonomous version of its Ioniq that looks identical to the all-electric version of the sedan. The vehicle was sitting on the show floor without any cover and everybody walked by it without knowing it was an autonomous vehicle.
The Ioniq autonomous concept shares exterior design characteristics of the all-electric Ioniq due in U.S. showrooms by year’s end, but with hidden self-driving technologies. The company will offer rides in the self-driving version at the CES technology trade show in January.
Hyundai says the car uses a lidar system with three advanced radars combined with three forward-facing cameras, blind-spot sensors, GPS antenna and “smart cruise” radar to provide 360 degrees or protection and sensing.
The South Korean automaker said the goal of the autonomous Ioniq concept was to keep the self-driving systems as simple as possible. Keeping that in mind, the vehicle uses the production car’s forward-facing radar and “Lane Keep Assist” cameras with the advanced lidar system.
The vehicle is one of the few self-driving cars in development to have a hidden lidar system in its front bumper instead of on the roof, enabling it to look like any other car on the road. This differs from others such as Google Inc. and Ford Motor Co. that have the sensing mechanism attached to the roof of their vehicles.
Hyundai is currently testing three autonomous Ioniqs and two autonomous Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles at its research and development campus in Namyang, South Korea.
The company plans to offer test drives of the autonomous Ioniqs on the Las Vegas strip during CES from Jan. 5-8. The show has become an increasingly popular place for automotive executives to attend to show off their newest technologies and vehicles.
Hyundai on Wednesday also announced it has partnered with WaiveCar, an all-electric car-sharing program that runs on advertising dollars.
The automaker will provide 250 of its all-electric Ioniq as part of the deal starting in Los Angeles in the first half of 2017. WaiveCar is planning to launch in three additional cities by the end of 2017.
Both announcements come a day after Hyundai announced that new owners will be able to lock, unlock and remote start their vehicles from inside their homes using the Amazon Echo’s Alexa voice command system.
The voice-command feature is available across Alexa-enabled devices and Hyundai vehicles equipped with the second generation of Blue Link, which started being rolled out on select vehicles for the 2015 and 2016 model years. All 2017 model-year vehicles equipped with the automaker’s Blue Link infotainment system offer the Alexa feature.
“Our customers increasingly want more ways to interact with their vehicles, especially when they are hustling to get out the door,” said Barry Ratzlaff, Hyundai Motor America executive director of digital business planning and connected operations. “Linking smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Apple Watch to vehicles via Blue Link continues to fill that desire. Allowing consumers to send commands to their car is just the beginning.”